Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Ides Of March

cute as a baby goose: Ryan, er, Gosling
George Clooney's new political film The Ides of March may be proof that we are getting collectively stupider as a society. Compare a movie like Ides to great 1970's fare such as The Conversation, or The Candidate or All The Presidents Men and you'll see how far we've slipped. Ides of March is like the opening titles of Trumpton: clunky, slow and you can see the clockwork turning long before any of the characters. The shocking revelation at the heart of this film is that, gasp, politicians say one thing and do another. No, really, that's it. Someone once said that you will never lose a dime in Hollywood underestimating the intelligence of the public which might be true but you'll never get our respect either will you? 
As my mind drifted from the Slot A into Slot B story I wondered if Clooney is anything more than a competent director. He has a decent visual eye but he does not stir strong performances from his cast: Ryan Gosling has a one note smirk throughout, Marisa Tomei's scenes made me wince for her and asking Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman to play schlubby is like asking Robin Williams to "give us one more take completely over the top." 
I wonder too about the logic. Does an intelligent young woman wrestling with the decision to have an abortion really want to instigate casual sex with her good looking boss? And not once but twice? Perhaps insane women do and as further proof that all women in this man's world are either dupes or mad the young intern (SPOILER ALERT) conveniently tops herself. Sheesh, that was lucky, script wise I mean. The internal plotting and logic of this film are dubious and would not have survived the writers room on The West Wing even in its sunset season.  
Before I end this dreary topic I also want to say something about Chris Matthews, Charlie Rose and Rachel Maddow prostituting their journalistic integrity by appearing in a fictional political movie. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I hate this. I like the days when journos wore ties even in war zones and they would sue if someone put them in a TV show or a novel. Now nobody cares. Even Paxo did The Thick Of It. Look, I expect nothing less from Charlie Rose who has always been a slavering celebrity groupie of almost Liptonian proportions but I expected better of Matthews and Maddow. Sure Matthews has a man crush on handsome Irish charmers (his new JFK hagiography is one aspect of that) but occasionally in interviews he'll remember that he's supposed to be a journalist. And Maddow I don't get at all. Presumably she's immune to Clooney's baritone and that thing he does where he looks up at you from his own shoes. What happened to the pair of them? Is the fairy gold from Hollywood really that bewitching?